Health

Seniors with ‘sense of purpose’ age better, sound better

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Seniors who have a strong “sense of purpose” in their lives tend to age better, reports the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Two key indicators of how rapidly people are aging – hand-grip strength and walking speed – were greater in older adults who cited goals and purposes, such as caring for grandchildren and pets, pursuing hobbies, and volunteering.

Researches speculated that having a purpose motivated seniors to engage in life with other people, promoting stronger physical and mental health.

Strong seniors can sound younger, too, according to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). “As you enter your 60s and 70s, your voice starts to change. Your vocal folds weaken, cartilage in the larynx begins to ossify (stiffen), and your respiratory system, which powers your voice, begins to work less efficiently. The result? Men’s voices go up, and women’s voices go down.”

AARP says seniors can combat this normal aging process by doing some simple and quick exercises, including humming into a straw “which helps stretch and strengthen the muscles of the voice. Start with a wide straw and progress to a smaller one, such as a coffee stirrer, as your voice gets stronger. Warm up with a simple ‘hmmm, hmmm, hmmm’ hums, and then vary your pitch by imitating a siren. Practice for about 10 minutes daily, or less if your voice feels fatigued. Reading aloud and singing help too. As with any exercise, you’ll build stamina over time.

“Your voice works best when your whole body’s in good shape. If you let your body become deconditioned, people are going to hear that in your voice. So be sure to stay physically active. Simple walking can provide fitness benefits that extend to your voice,” says AARP.

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